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Thread: Your Thoughts On The Zone System For A Scanning Workflow

  1. #21

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    Re: Your Thoughts On The Zone System For A Scanning Workflow

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    I preface this with in...
    Very interesting record...

    Really digital negatives are very flexible, allowing total control, and it allows customizing printing size. Still a direct contact print has very valuable authenticity...

  2. #22
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Your Thoughts On The Zone System For A Scanning Workflow

    Quote Originally Posted by IanBarber View Post
    Isn't the idea to get everything to fit properly between the goal posts at the time of exposure/development and then make the creative decision at the print stage?
    Almost. My interpretation of the Zone System is that it uses the film as an intermediary between the scene being photographed and the final print. That is, the film is used to "shoe horn" the range of tones in the scene into the range of tones that a final print can show. An added benefit if done correctly is that using the negative to print in the darkroom becomes significantly easier.

    So, the way Mr. Adams described it, he visualized what he wanted the final print to look like before exposing the film, and used that visualization to make decisions about how to expose the film in the field, and how to process the film in the darkroom. All so that it would be easier to make that final print that he visualized in the field. And it works, beautifully, as described.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    When you're talking about scanning, you don't have the same constraints. In the darkroom print workflow, you expose the film, processes the film to get the highlight density you want, then print the film in the darkroom. In the scanning workflow, you expose the film, process the film, scan the film, then print. That extra step of scanning can change things markedly.

    Scanning means that the film no longer has to act as the intermediary step by itself. All it has to do is record the range of tones you want to capture. It does not have to confine that range of tones to a set of densities to make it easy print on photopaper any more.

    What scanning does is convert the range of tones from the negative, into a range of digital numbers. It's really easy to place the negative's Dmin on some low number in the full digital range (like zero if you want), and Dmax on some high number in the full digital range (like 1024 [10 bit], 4096 [12 bit], etc. if you want) and let the scanner place the inbetween densities on the inbetween numbers in a linear fashion.

    So instead of the negative being an approximate fit between the scene and the print, when you add the scanning step, the negative + scanning can become an exact fit between the scene and the final print. But to get that, you have to stop thinking about the Zone System as solely about darkroom printing (which is difficult since scanning didn't really exist when Adams and Archer created the Zone System, so they never mention anything about a digital process in any of their writings), and start thinking about what it means to add scanning into the workflow.

    But if you can't let that go, you can always use the Zone System as Adams and Archer described it, while still printing digitally. As I've said many times before, if you optimize your negatives for modern darkroom printing, they will scan just fine.

    Bruce Watson

  3. #23
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Your Thoughts On The Zone System For A Scanning Workflow

    The negative for me has always been a intermediate to the final print... I think of scans the same way.. In both cases they are raw information for me to play with.

    I am no expert as some on this forum about the Zone System, but I always think about finding a location for highlight detail and shadow detail and then either with filter or PS I place the contrast or look of the print.
    I felt the translation to digital was easy for me since I understood film to print , I just replaced the film with a scanned file or now supplied digital file.

    So in my world I find them both similar and I use the same thinking when making prints via an enlarger as I do when making prints via scans.

  4. #24

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    Re: Your Thoughts On The Zone System For A Scanning Workflow

    Quote Originally Posted by IanBarber View Post
    Isn't the idea to get everything to fit properly between the goal posts [between Zones III and VIII*] at the time of exposure/development and then make the creative decision at the print stage ?

    *My original statement
    If that is what you want. Not every subject is best rendered with shadows on Zone III and detailed highlights on Zone VIII. What if you want jet-black shadows, deep mid-tones and a brilliant, almost paper-white highlight from a boringly-lit normal scene? How do you place and develop then? Or what if you want a feeling of luminescence and airiness is a scene that would print heavy and muddy if you just place shadows in Zone III?

    The point is, one has to have an idea of how the tone-reproduction system works, then have an idea of the myriad of different ways that manipulating it renders a scene. And finally, you have to have a vision of how you want a print of a particular scene to look, i.e., you have to have an artistic, or at least, a technical goal. Knowing how to use the Zone System helps achieve that goal.

    Too many have no goals, no vision, no purpose. And too many think creativity only happens at the printing stage.

    Best,

    Doremus

  5. #25

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    Re: Your Thoughts On The Zone System For A Scanning Workflow

    Just I'd like to add that ZS exposure for scanners can be of higher importance with MF and 35mm than with LF.

    Grain structure can be very important in smaller formats, and it happens that grain structure of an area varies depending on if it is in a Zone level or other. For example HP5 has more grain in the mids while TX has more in the darker greys, so if we modify exposure then the relationship between grain structures of different areas will vary. This effect is way less seen with LF for obvious reasons, but it may be critical in MF.

  6. #26

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    Re: Your Thoughts On The Zone System For A Scanning Workflow

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    Very interesting record...

    Really digital negatives are very flexible, allowing total control, and it allows customizing printing size. Still a direct contact print has very valuable authenticity...
    And also markably sharper. Just look at a photographic postcard made 100 years ago through a Agfa Loupe.

  7. #27

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    Re: Your Thoughts On The Zone System For A Scanning Workflow

    Quote Originally Posted by chassis View Post
    Ian, good topic.

    I notice that several of the early replies address paper/hardcopy output. What is the output medium as it relates to your question? Digital only (monitor/tablet/mobile phone) or does it also include hardcopy/paper print?
    I've not done testing for scanning. Bot, the above sounds lik a good idea.

  8. #28

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    Re: Your Thoughts On The Zone System For A Scanning Workflow

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    For example HP5 has more grain in the mids while TX has more in the darker greys, so if we modify exposure then the relationship between grain structures of different areas will vary. This effect is way less seen with LF for obvious reasons, but it may be critical in MF.
    I never knew that! That's actually really amazingly useful.

  9. #29

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    Re: Your Thoughts On The Zone System For A Scanning Workflow

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Frostmill View Post
    I never knew that! That's actually really amazingly useful.
    I discovered it, long ago, while playing with film emulation software.

    In those curves you see the "amount of grain" depending on the gray level, in reality it is linked to density in the negative:



    Here there is also a an image of a car (TX) in the comments, in on car you see different grain depending on the shade...

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/125592...posted-public/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/139392...4/28114869295/

    Regards,

    Pere

  10. #30

    Re: Your Thoughts On The Zone System For A Scanning Workflow

    What that usually means is developing for a bit lower Dmax for scanning than you would for darkroom.

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